OC to measure visitors a new way. Goal is to better focus resort’s marketing funds.

Written by Brian Shane, Staff Writer DelmarvaNow!com OCEAN CITY — Resort tourism leaders are seeking a more precise measurement of how many tourists are visiting Ocean City and where they call home. “We really need firmer metrics on where the people are coming from, what the occupancy is,” said Tourism Director Donna Abbott. “There are so many variables to consider. If at the end of the season, we can firmly say it was a good season and here’s why ... that’s what we’re looking for.” Other metrics such as trash collection, parking lot revenue and bus ridership could be used to paint a fuller picture of tourism in a given time period. Online data counts too, as website clicks and mobile app downloads are also measured.­ The goal is to improve marketing effectiveness and to focus where tourism advertising dollars should justifiably be spent, Abbott said. The resort’s Tourism Commission discussed the issue at its recent monthly meeting. The consensus was that using food and room tax numbers alone gives only part of the story. It doesn’t say where the tourists came from or what they spent their money on during their visit. The topic came up at the Tourism Commission meeting when Town Council member Mary Knight, the commission chairwoman, mentioned that consulting firm Nobi was looking to work with Ocean City. The consultant would take all the numbers available and boil them down to an understandable result, but sought $75,000 to conduct the study. Instead, the commission agreed to create a subcommittee to study the issue. It will be comprised of Knight, Abbott and Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. While resort leaders would love to get complete and regular occupancy reports from all Ocean City hotels, Jones said not all comply. There are a handful of properties that refuse to share their booking information. Ocean City does get booking and occupancy information shared by 32 participating hotels, which represent about a third of hotel properties, Jones said. bshane@dmg.gannett.com

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